October Challenger Recap: Rising Players Thiem, Pella, Andreozzi Take Titles, Cuevas, Bellucci Comeback Stories
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Mons Challenger (September 30-October 6, 2013)
Radek Stepanek won his third challenger of 2013 in straights over Igor Sijsling on indoor hard courts in Belgium. Stepanek, the top seed, beat Marc Gicquel in the semis while Sijsling beat Andreas Beck. Former top 20 player Xaiver Malisse retired here in Mons, hanging up his racquet with an opening round loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets. A fan favorite for his unique game and often-hotheaded attitude on court, X-Man will be missed.
Sao Paulo-4 Challenger (September 30-October 6, 2013)
Rising Argentine Guido Pella dominated his fellow young countryman Facundo Arguello to take this clay court challenger title in Brazil. Pella beat Pedro Sousa in the semis while Facu beat Rogerio Dutra Silva. Pella remains inside the top 100 with this result, among others.
Rennes Challenger (October 7-October 13, 2013)
2 seed Nicolas Mahut, another veteran who has enjoyed a great year of tennis, won this indoor hard court challenger over fellow Frenchman and top seed Kenny De Schepper. Mahut beat Marc Gicquel in the semis, another good result for the Frenchman Gicquel, who has played well at the challenger level this year. De Schepper beat Maxime Teixiera in another all-French semi.
San Juan Challenger (October 7-October 13, 2013)
The Argentine domination of the South American clay challenger circuit continued when Guido Andreozzi beat his countryman Diego Sebastian Schwartzman for this title in Argentina. Andreozzi beat Maximo Gonzalez in the semis while Schwartzman beat Juan Ignacio Londero in yet another all-Argentine semi. Andreozzi is at a career high ranking inside the top 150 now.
Sao Jose Do Rio Preto Challenger (October 7-October 13, 2013)
Joao Souza won in front of home fans in Brazil on clay with a straight sets victory over Alejandro Gonzalez in the final. Souza beat Gastao Elias in the semis while Gonzalez beat Guido Pella.
Tashkent Challenger (October 7-October 13, 2013)
Dudi Sela claimed his third challenger title of the year in Tashkent on hard courts as the veteran Israeli stalwart beat Teymuraz Gabashvili in the final. Sela beat Lukas Lacko in the semis while Gabashvili beat Amir Weintraub.
This tournament was marred by international controversy after Tunisian player Malek Jaziri was demanded by his tennis federation to withdraw before a match with Israeli player Weintraub, and he did so, resulting in Tunisia being banned from Davis Cup for 1 year and embarrassment all around. Jaziri had actually played Weintraub before, but apparently the Tunisian tennis federation, which provides him with playing subsidies in order for him to continue his career, threatened to sanction that support if Jaziri played the match.
Jaziri was cleared of wrongdoing by the ATP and is actually friends with Weintraub personally.
Mouilleron-Le-Captif Challenger (October 14-October 20, 2013)
Michael Berrer, another veteran, beat Nicolas Mahut to take this indoor hard court challenger title in France. The German Berrer beat Michael Llodra in the semis while Mahut took care of Andreas Beck.
Buenos Aires Challenger (October 21-October 27, 2013)
Former top 50 player Pablo Cuevas, who is battling back after injuries knocked his ranking way down, beat Facundo Arguello on Argentinian clay for this title. Cuevas beat the in-form Guido Andreozzi in the semis while Arguello beat Steve Diez.
Kazan 2 Challenger (October 21-October 27, 2013)
Newly minted top 100 player Oleksandr Nedovyesov beat Andrey Golubev for this indoor hard court challenger title. Nedovyesov has won three challenger titles this year and put together a quality year, primarily on the challenger circuit. He beat Farrukh Dustov in the semis while Golubev beat Lucas Pouille, an up and coming name we haven’t heard from in a while. The 19 year old Frenchman is now inside the top 190 at a career high ranking of 184.
Melbourne Challenger (October 21-October 27, 2013)
Matt Ebden did the green and gold proud with a 3 set victory over Tatsuma Ito on outdoor hard courts in sunny Melbourne. Ebden won his second challenger of 2013, and has had a tremendous fall season. He beat James Ward in the semis while Ito beat James Duckworth. Ebden has the following tournament results post US Open: 1 title, 2 finals, 1 semi and 1 quarterfinal.
Casablanca Challenger (October 24-November 3, 2013)
Dominic Thiem, a fast rising 20 year old Austrian, captured his second challenger title of 2013, this time on clay in Morocco over Potito Starace. Thiem beat Filip Krajinovic in the semis while Starace beat another Austrian, Gerald Melzer.
Eckental Challenger (October 28-November 3, 2013)
Top seed Benjamin Becker won at home in Germany at this challenger on the fast and vanishing surface of carpet. Becker beat Ruben Bemelmans in the final after defeating Dustin Brown in the semis. Bemelmans beat Tim Puetz.
Geneva Challenger (October 28-November 3, 2013)
Malek Jaziri won on indoor hard in Switzerland over JL Struff, who has put together a good year of tennis himself. Jaziri beat Marco Chiudinelli in the semis while Struff beat Marius Copil. 2 seed Evgeny Donskoy was upset by lucky loser Laurent Recouderc in the opening round. Struff drops to 0-7 in challenger finals in his career.
Montevideo Challenger (October 28-November 3, 2013)
Thomaz Bellucci, who has endured a really rough year of tennis and has seen his ranking drop him outside the top 100 finally pulled things together at the end of the season to win this title on clay over Diego Sebastian Schwartzman in straights. Bellucci will certainly hope this is a sign of good things to come as he beat Martin Alund in the semis and also beat seeded players Alejandro Gonzalez and Pere Riba. Schwartzman beat another comeback story, Pablo Cuevas in the semis.
Seoul Challenger (October 28-November 3, 2013)
Dusan Lajovic won this challenger title in Seoul after Julian Reister withdrew with illness and gave the Serbian a walkover victory. Lajovic beat Yuichi Sugita in the semis while Reister beat Blaz Kavcic. Top seed Rendy Lu was upset by Belgian Germain Gigounon in the opening round.
Traralgon Challenger (October 28-November 3, 2013)
Yuki Bhambri won a rain interrupted final in Australia on hard courts in 3 sets over American Bradley Klahn after dispatching Brydan Klein in the semis. Klahn beat James Duckworth, who made another good challenger run. All of the players except Klein have had pretty good years of tennis this year and are trying to move up to the big time.